The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission announced three settlements with businesses resolving alleged violations of the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act. The settlements mark the first-ever enforcement actions of the Obama-era law, which is designed to prohibit the use of automated software in the acquisition of tickets for resale.

Just in Time Tickets Inc, Concert Specials Inc., and Cartism Corp. and their respective owners agreed to the settlements, which include monetary penalties and other terms designed to prevent future violations of BOTS Act provisions.

“These defendants are alleged to have cheated the system to the detriment of consumers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Today’s filing serves notice that the Department of Justice will enforce the Better Online Ticket Sales Act in appropriate cases. We are pleased to work with our partners at the Federal Trade Commission on this and other matters important to consumers.”

TFL and ATBS for ticketing professionals

“Those who violate the BOTS Act cheat fans by forcing them to pay inflated prices to attend concerts, theater performances and sporting events,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme for the Eastern District of New York. “This office will spare no effort in prohibiting deceptive practices that harm consumers.”

According to a press release announcing the settlements, the defendants allegedly created multiple accounts on primary ticketing systems and used hundreds of credit cards to purchase tickets to live events in excess of limits imposed by the sellers. They allegedly also used ticket bots to “fool tests designed to prevent nonhuman visitors” as well as used programs to hide the IP addresses of computers used to purchase the tickets.

The oft-cited use of bots that themselves purchase tickets faster than humans can does not appear to have been involved in the alleged schemes.

The penalties assessed in the enforcement action could go as high as $31.6 million. However, adhering to the stipulations of the agreement could see the companies involved paying a fraction of that – as little as $3.7 million.

Additional details and the complaints against each specific company are available at the Justice Department’s website.